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Mosel River

September 13th, 2000 · No Comments

Day 4 (off route) Netherlands to Germany

We stayed in Cologne, but didn’t want to be in a big city, so we drove down the valley to Mosel River Wine country. I had been there 2 weeks before and loved it. I wanted Larry to see it, so off we went. By this time we were only about 2 hours away.

I was right about Larry liking the area. He loved it. Of course what’s not to love about a beautiful mountain surrounded river with tons of interesting river traffic.

The Germans are masters at bridge building. This huge structure not only crosses a river but an entire valley as well. Note the top of a double tractor trailor crossing the bridge. It gives the size more relevance.

It felt good to find a quiet place where we could check in by 3 in the afternoon! After the past few days we and especially Larry was ready to stop. Cochan was the perfect place to do this.

We drove to the town of Cochan and found a cute hotel on the river. Cochan as this picture shows is a busy little place.

[flickr album=72157605933964207 num=35]

Day 5

We needed to get back to our “prepaid” hotel waiting for us with the Odyssey group on the outskirts of Cologne. We had the entire day to get back, so we planned to visit the castle of Burg-Eltz on the way. It is a wonderful castle accessible via a 45 minute hike through the woods.

Our interior tour of the castle was interesting, but no pictures were allowed. I can only relate that the interior was done very well, giving the castle a warm, lived in feeling. In one of the state rooms there were moose antlers hanging on the wall with the inscription “Alaska 1903”. One of the Barons was a hunter.

In the same room there were miniature canons, all lined up in a row. At first I thought they were meant to be toys, but they were made of iron and very heavy. Our guide informed us they were “salesmen’s models”. I chuckled never considering that a canon salesman needed a model! Who would ever think to collect such a thing!

Here is some interesting feudal trivia. The spiral staircase always go in a clockwise spiral for a reason. It was not just to save space, but to favor the defender, who could wield his weapon freely with his right arm, while the aggressor was hampered by the central spindle. Guess all the “south paw” sword bearers had to do kitchen duty, since they didn’t fit in with the architectural defense design of the castle.

All over the world, soldiers salute their superiors in much the same way, hand stretched rigid, index finger touching the forehead, just above the right eyebrow. How did it start? In feudal times it was customary for a knight to identify himself to his superiors and friends by lifting the hinged visor on his helmet. He did so with the outstretched finger of his right hand. Thus the origin of “the salute!”

Knights in suits of armor were so heavily encumbered they needed to be lifted onto the horse via a block and tackle. Once knocked off, they are powerless to defend themselves.

It was an expensive form of defense too. A full suit of armor would set a knight back 45 cows!

Our tourist day turned out to be a good one. We were getting ready to leave the castle grounds, when Larry informed me, he couldn’t find the car keys! I helped him check his pockets, he had so many of them and sure enough, the car keys were not on his person!

We started to reconstruct his steps before the hike and decided the keys were left in the trunk of the car. He had gone back to get his camera and left them there. My heart pounded. In the trunk was my precious computer and 3500 pictures of the trip. I didn’t care if someone stole the car, I just didn’t want to lose my computer!

We walked back through the woods to the car, it seemed to take forever to get there. When we finally got back, the keys were in the trunk, just where he left them. It was our lucky day! Had we been in a busier area or in a different country or if he had not backed the car in, we may have been walking back to Cologne, or at least the train station. Whew!

Reluctant to leave just yet, we had a light lunch at the cafe. Before jumping in the car, we purchased two bottles of wine for the road or rather the 22 hour flight to Australia. Who needs sleeping pills when you have Mosel valley wine!

Day 6

It is the last day in Europe, we leave the Etap Hotel tonight at 11:30 pm for the airport in Cologne. Originally we were scheduled to fly out of Amsterdam, but the Amsterdam airport couldn’t accommodate TK&A. We were told the airport is too busy to let us take up all the time required to load the plane. So they sent us to Cologne, Germany about 4 hours away. For the group it was a bus ride, for Larry and I in the borrowed rental car, it was a snap. We were already in Germany, thanks to the IBC convention!

As usual there are political events that are causing many people including the Odyssey riders some problems. The truck drives across the European Union are pulling off blockades to protest the high cost of taxes on gasoline. (It’s a modern day Boston Tea Party!)

To date, the blockades have crushed the people in England, causing schools to close and people to hoard food to the point of rationing. It is really a mess. Two days ago the truck drivers shut down the entire city of Brussels. We are concerned that they will shut down Cologne and we will be without gas to get to Australia.

The gear and the bike trucks got caught in the blockade coming in from Amsterdam. They took until 7 pm to arrive here, a mere 4 hour drive. They were so late in arriving at camp, the staff had to sent the riders on the bus and wait to load all of our bikes by themselves.

I feel the tension rising. We are all concerned about the aircraft that has been chartered to take us to Australia. As Larry refers it is “you ain’t never heard of it, airlines”. At our last meeting someone questioned Tim about it and it’s safety record. Tim responded he wouldn’t get on a plane he didn’t think was safe. Of course Tim is not getting on this plane, he left for Hong Kong 2 days ago. The schedule we all had in our hands at the time the question was asked and answered stated exactly that. Tim’s answer held no comfort for the concerned!

I guess that’s why it’s called Odyssey.

Tags: Germany · world travel